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EN BANC

[A.M. No. 2003-7-SC. December 15, 2003]

ADMINISTRATIVE CASE FOR DISHONESTY AND FALSIFICATION OF


OFFICIAL DOCUMENT AGAINST NOEL V. LUNA, SC CHIEF
JUDICIAL STAFF OFFICER, SYSTEMS PLANNING AND
PROJECT EVALUATION (SPPE) DIVISION, MISO
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:

This administrative matter stems from a letter , dated November 12, 2002, of the
Civil Service Commission (CSC). It referred to the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) a text message, which the CSC received under its TEXTCSC Project, seeking an
investigation into the qualifications of respondent Noel V. Luna, SC Chief Judicial Staff
Officer, Systems Planning and Project Evaluation Division, Management Information
Systems Office (MISO), Supreme Court.
[1]

The text message reads as follows:

Please check the PDS of Noel V. Luna. As of now he is holding a position of SC Chief
Judicial Staff Officer-PERMANENT position. He always claim 2 be a grad in the
personal data sheet Tnx. Concern employee of d court.
It appears that from May 5, 1986, until February 28, 1990, Noel V. Luna served as a
contractual employee in the Office of the Reporter, Supreme Court. In his Personal Data
Sheet (PDS), which became one of the bases for his appointment and its eventual
renewal, respondent indicated his educational attainment as 5th Year College. On
March 1, 1990, when he was appointed to a permanent position as Information Officer I,
Editorial Division, Office of the Reporter, his updated PDS stated that he reached 5th
year college.
[2]

After a few years, respondent was favorably recommended to the position of


Information Officer II in the Systems Planning and Project Evaluation Division, MISO, a
position requiring a bachelors degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering
and relevant experience of three (3) years. He was promoted to the position on April 28,
1992.
[3]

At the time respondent was recommended for promotion, Memorandum Circular


No. 23, s. 1991 was still effective. Said Circular allowed deficiencies in education to be
substituted with one (1) year of specialized/relevant experience, six (6) months of

relevant training or two hundred (200) hours


specialized/relevant training programs or seminars.

consisting

of

one

or

more

[4]

On March 1, 1995, the position respondent was holding was upgraded to SC


Supervising Judicial Staff Officer.
[5]

In November 1997, respondent applied for the position SC Chief Judicial Staff
Officer, MISO, a position that had the following qualification requirements:

1) Bachelors degree relevant to the job;


2) Four years in position/s involving management and supervision;
3) 24 hours training in management and supervision; and
4) Career Service Professional Eligibility.
Upon the favorable recommendation of the members of the Selection and Promotion
Board (SPB), respondent was appointed Chief Judicial Staff Officer on January 13,
1998. In the PDS that he accomplished on January 15, 1998, respondent indicated that
he had obtained the degree in BS ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING from 1982-1987. His
appointment was subsequently confirmed and attested by the Civil Service
Commission.
[6]

[7]

After almost four (4) years, the CSC, in a letter dated November 12, 2002, referred
the aforecited text message to the Office of the Court Administrator. The said office, in
turn, referred the letter of the CSC to the Office of Administrative Services (OAS) for
appropriate action.
[8]

Acting on the referral, the OAS sought to verify respondents educational attainment
from the Lyceum of the Philippines, the university where the respondent is known to
have attended college. In response, Ms. Maria Teresa O. Pilapil, the school registrar,
issued a certification on April 9, 2003. She stated that, Mr. Luna lacks 54 units to
complete the academic requirements of the prescribed course leading to the degree of
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering as of First Semester of School Year 1986 1987.
[9]

[10]

In view of what appeared to be a discrepancy if not outright anomaly in the


qualification records pertaining to the appointment of respondent as SC Chief Judicial
Staff Officer of the SPPED, MISO, the OAS directed respondent on April 15, 2003, to
submit a written comment within five (5) working days and explain why no disciplinary
action should be taken against him for dishonesty and falsification of official document.
[11]

In his comment dated April 21, 2003, respondent admitted that he indeed did not
possess the degree of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. But he asserted
that he never made any claim that he did. He averred that his lack of a college degree is
well known to his officemates, as he has never concealed, or even attempted to
conceal, said fact. He also denied making a false entry in his record.
According to him, he personally typed all the entries in his PDS, and when he
submitted his PDS, it already contained the necessary information in typewritten form.
He added that he left blank all the items to which he had no response. If he were indeed

the author of the false information, respondent argues, there was no reason for him not
to type in the entry since he could just as easily type it in as he typed the other entries.
He likewise asserted that he was aware that insertions in completed documents need to
be authenticated with a signature. Since there was no signature near the insertion, it
was not he who made the insertion, respondent argued.
[12]

Finally, respondent expressed suspicion over the spurious entry in his PDS
especially because the false entry has serious implications on his person. He proposed
to help the OAS in the investigation, and offered his wholehearted cooperation.
[13]

On April 24, 2003, the Complaints and Investigation Division, OAS, transmitted to
the Personnel Division, OAS, the certification issued by the Office of the Registrar of the
Lyceum of the Philippines, respondents comment, and respondents PDS accomplished
on January 15, 1998, for appropriate action. Correspondingly, the Personnel Division
served a written request upon the Civil Service Commission, NCR, for the complete
employment records on file of the respondent. The CSC granted the request and
forwarded the necessary documents to the Personnel Division of the OAS.
[14]

[15]

On November 19, 2003, Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, DCC and Chief Administrative
Officer, submitted to the Chief Justice through the Clerk of Court, the result of the
investigation, with formal hearings conducted on the matter. Her report recommended:

In view of the foregoing, this Office, finds respondent Noel V. Luna, SC Chief
Judicial Staff Officer, Systems Planning and Project Evaluation Division, MISO,
guilty of administrative offenses of Falsification of Official Document and
Dishonesty, and respectfully recommends that he be DISMISSED from the service
with forfeiture of retirement benefits, except his leave credits, if there is any, and with
disqualification for re-employment in any government agency or government owned
or controlled corporation.
The matter is now before us to consider her findings and recommended sanction
against respondent.
Respondent wants to impress on us that it was not he who indicated, in handwritten
form, the false entry BS Electrical Engineering in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS) but
someone else. It must be noted, however, that all application papers including the PDS,
whether for original or promotional appointment, are initially submitted to, and
processed by, the Secretariat of the Selection and Promotions Board (SPB) before the
members of the Board would recommend a name from among the qualified applicants.
Thus, respondent appears to fault the Secretariat of the SPB as the one responsible for
inserting the false information regarding his educational attainment in his PDS.
Yet, respondent was the one seeking a promotional appointment. His interest in
getting that much-desired promotion cannot be overstressed. In contrast, the Secretariat
of the SPB had no interest whatsoever in respondents promotion other than to perform
the duty of collating and processing application papers, and preparing the matrices to
be used by the Board in filling up vacant positions in the Court. Respondent stood to
benefit by the coveted promotion, and not the Secretariat. His chances of being

promoted would have sunk if it had been starkly revealed that he had yet to finish his
five-year course in B.S. Electrical Engineering. Without the handwritten entry of BS
Electrical Engineering in the PDS, respondent could not qualify for the position of SC
Chief Judicial Staff Officer of the SPPE Division, MISO, because it requires one to be a
holder of a bachelors degree.
Moreover, as a matter of procedure, the Secretariat would have made the proper
verification from respondent if it were true that respondents PDS was silent with regard
to his educational attainment instead of supplying or writing in the information required.
In the absence of credible evidence, the presumption of regularity in the performance of
duties by the Secretariat prevails over respondents unsubstantiated but self-serving
assertions.
Furthermore, we note that respondent made contradictory statements regarding
material points in this case. In no uncertain terms, respondent wrote in his comment, I
personally typed in all the entries in said PDS form, thus I am aware of all the
information contained in the same. I am therefore aware that the entry was not made by
me. But when asked what prompted him not to indicate his education qualification in
his PDS, respondent answered, Well candidly speaking maam. I was not actually the
one who prepared or typed the entries [in] PDS. It was my wife, Jocelyn Luna, who is
also working at the MISO. She is the one who takes care of my papers with the help of
the secretaries like Melissa and the other employees. Such inconsistency does not jibe
with ones practical experience of veracity and credibility. A person telling the truth would
not contradict outright a statement he has just made.
[16]

[17]

Respondent asserted during the hearings by the OAS that the new PDS form is
different from the old PDS form. This was in an attempt to lend credence to his claim
that he left the space for educational attainment in the new PDS form blank. The claim,
however, would not exonerate respondent even if we accept it as true. For then,
respondent would be liable for suppression of a material fact. It is clear from the PDS
form that his educational attainment is being asked from him. This is clear from the
heading Number of Units Completed/Course Title next to the column for Degree
Earned (write NONE if not graduated). The filing of a PDS is required in connection
with the promotion to a higher position and the contenders for promotion have the legal
obligation to disclose the truth. Any willful concealment of facts in the Personal Data
Sheet constitutes mental dishonesty amounting to misconduct.
[18]

[19]

Even granting that Item No. 17 of the new PDS form, under the tableheading Degree Earned (write NONE if not graduated), is extremely difficult to
understand and rhay be understood to mean that the item should be left blank,
respondents claim of innocence could not be accepted. This is because the adjacent
column under the table-heading Number of Units Completed/Course Title would
inevitably leave the applicant with no option but to indicate the exact extent of his
college education. It became a subtle but deliberate attempt to perpetuate a falsehood
when respondent indicated 1982-1987, or a span of five years, as his exclusive dates of
school attendance. For significantly this period is needed to finish BS Electrical
Engineering, a five-year course.

Incidentally, a comparison of the old PDS form, which respondent had


accomplished twice (once in 1990 and again in 1992), with the new PDS form, which is
the basis of the instant administrative charge, reveals that the two forms do not differ
substantially in terms of the requirement to disclose ones educational attainment.
It bears repeating that every employee of the judiciary should be an example of
integrity, uprightness, and honesty. Like any public servant, he must exhibit the highest
sense of honesty and integrity not only in the performance of his official duties but in his
personal and private dealings with other people, to preserve the courts good name and
standing. It cannot be overstressed that the image of a court of justice is mirrored in
the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat, from the judge to
the lowest of its personnel. Court personnel have been enjoined to adhere to the
exacting standards of morality and decency in their professional and private conduct in
order to preserve the good name and integrity of the courts of justice. Respondent in
this case failed to meet the stringent standards set for a judicial employee; hence, he
does not deserve to remain in the office staff of the judiciary.
[20]

[21]

[22]

[23]

The accomplishment of the Personal Data Sheet (PDS) is required under Civil
Service Rules and Regulations for employment in the government. The making of an
untruthful statement therein amounts to dishonesty and falsification of an official
document that warrant dismissal from the service even on the first offense. Of these
offenses, respondent is clearly liable.
[24]

Under Section 23 , Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of EO


292 and other Pertinent Civil Service Laws, dishonesty and falsification of public
document are considered grave offenses for which the penalty of dismissal is
prescribed. Section 9 of the said Rule likewise provides that The penalty of dismissal
shall carry with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of leave credits, and retirement
benefits, and the disqualification for re-employment in the government service. This
penalty is without prejudice to criminal liability of the respondent.
[25]

[26]

[27]

WHEREFORE, respondent NOEL V. LUNA, SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Systems


Planning and Project Evaluation Division, MISO, is found guilty of dishonesty and
falsification of public document thereby warranting his DISMISSAL from the service with
forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to
his re-employment in any branch or agency of the government, including governmentowned or controlled corporations effective immediately.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr.,
Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[1]

See Letter of CSC Asst. Commissioner Nelson Acebedo dated November 12, 2002.

[2]

See Sealed Report, p. 1.

[3]

See Certificate dated may 9, 2003, issued by Mr. Jacinto S. Serrano, SC Judicial Staff Officer,
Personnel Division, OAS.

[4]

See Sealed Report, p.2.

[5]

Ibid.

[6]

See PDS dated January 15, 1998.

[7]

Sealed Report, p. 2.

[8]

Supra, note 1.

[9]

See Letter of Atty. Eden Candelaria dated December 12, 2002 to the Registrars Office of the Lyceum of
the Philippines.

[10]

Certification dated April 9, 2003, issued by Maria Teresa Pilapil, Registrar, Lyceum of the Philippines.

[11]

See Memorandum of Atty. Eden Candelaria dated April 15, 2003 to respondent.

[12]

Respondents Comment dated April 21, 2003.

[13]

Ibid.

[14]

See Memorandum of Atty. Edwin B. Andrada, dated April 24, 2003, to respondent.

[15]

See Letter of Arturo SJ. Panaligan, dated May 9, 2003, to Mr. Jacinto S. Serrano.

[16]

Respondents Comment dated April 21, 2003.

[17]

TSN, 16 May 2003, p. 2.

[18]

Lumancas v. Intas, G.R. No. 133472, 5 December 2000, 347 SCRA 22, 34.

[19]

Bautista v. Navarro, No. L-46199, 29 June 1982, 114 SCRA 794, 798.

[20]

Canillas v. Pelayo, A.M. No. P-02-1575, 1 August 2002, 386 SCRA 12, 16.

[21]

Lauro v. Lauro, A.M. No. P-91-642, 6 June 2001, 358 SCRA 405, 409-410.

[22]

CSC v. Sta. Ana, A.M. No. P-03-1696, 30 April 2003, p. 10.

[23]

Ibid.

[24]

De Guzman v. Delos Santos, A.M. No. 2002-8-SC, 18 December 2002, p. 13.

[25]

Sec. 23. Administrative offenses with its corresponding penalties are classified into grave, less grave,
and light, depending on the gravity of its nature and effects of said acts on the government
service. The following are grave offenses with its corresponding penalties:

(a) Dishonesty (1st Offense Dismissal)


xxx
(f) Falsification of official document (1st Offense, Dismissal)
[26]

Administrative Code of 1987.

[27]

Supra, note 22 at 11.